Category Archives: Equal Justice

Judges Are Children’s Worst Enemy

.jpg photo of Child Predator Doctor
Larry Nassar, 53

Former USA Gymnastics doctor pleads guilty to Child Pornography charges

“I sacrificed my childhood to compete for the United States throughout the world,” Antolin said.  “The doctor they assigned to treat me betrayed my trust.  Now the federal government is giving him a free pass for his alleged assaults on me and many other child athletes.  That’s not justice.”
Jeanette Antolin

Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics physician accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls, pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal child pornography charges.

Nassar, 53, pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography, possessing child pornography and to a charge that he hid and destroyed evidence in the case.  The guilty plea was part of an agreement with the western Michigan US Attorney’s Office and was formally entered in federal court in Grand Rapids.

“Victims and the public can be assured that a day of reckoning is indeed in Dr. Nassar’s future,” Acting US Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement.  “No one, no matter his station in life, is above the law.  Those who exploit children will be found out and they will be held accountable.”

Nassar’s attorneys, Matthew Newburg and Shannon Smith, declined to comment on the guilty plea, but issued a brief statement about the state charges he also faces.

USA Gymnastics agrees to dozens of changes amid sex abuse scandal

“Dr. Nassar’s position on the state cases has not changed and we intend to proceed to trial.  The plea today was negotiated only to resolve the federal charges,” their joint statement reads.

In total, Nassar faces 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 11 counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct at the state level, according to Megan Hawthorne, deputy press secretary for state Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to all of the state charges, Hawthorne said.  Several of the first degree charges pertain to victims under 13, and all of the state-level charges involve former family friends, gymnasts, and/or patients of Nassar, she said.

Nassar, the father of three school-aged children, was the team physician for the Michigan State University gymnastics and women’s crew teams, as well as an associate professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He worked at MSU from 1997 to 2016, and served as the USA Gymnastics physician through four Olympic Games.

Prosecutors alleged that between September and December 2004, Nassar knowingly downloaded images and videos of child pornography from the Internet and that between 2003 and 2016, he knowingly kept thousands of child pornography images and videos on his hard drive.  Some of the images Nassar allegedly possessed included those of a minor under 12 years old, court documents state.

Furthermore, court documents allege that in September 2016, when he was aware that he was under investigation, Nassar paid $49 to have his laptop completely wiped of the pornographic images and videos and threw away several hard drives containing child pornography.

Nassar faces a combined maximum of 60 years of imprisonment. Nassar must also register as a sex offender and pay restitution to all of the victims of his sexual exploitation, the amounts of which will be determined at a later sentencing date, according to the terms of the plea deal.

In return, the US Attorney has agreed to dismiss Nassar’s original indictment and not prosecute Nassar for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children, relating to alleged conduct with two minors in Nassar’s swimming pool in the summer of 2015 and for “illicit sexual conduct” with two other minor children during interstate and international travel, according to the plea agreement obtained by CNN.

Jeanette Antolin, a member of the US National Gymnastics Team from 1995-2000 who alleges that Nassar molested her when she was competing in Canada, Switzerland, and China, denounced the plea agreement.

“I sacrificed my childhood to compete for the United States throughout the world,” Antolin said.  “The doctor they assigned to treat me betrayed my trust.  Now the federal government is giving him a free pass for his alleged assaults on me and many other child athletes.  That’s not justice.”

These federal charges are separate from the sexual assault charges that Nassar faces at the state level.

The state charges, filed in two Michigan counties, stem from allegations that Nassar sexually abused young female athletes under the guise of providing medical care in his home and other settings, including the Michigan State University sports medicine clinic and Twistars Gymnastics Club.

In February, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon stated that the university is “fully cooperating with every aspect of the ongoing criminal investigations and have urged all members of the MSU community to do so as well.”

The following month, Twistars Gymnastics Club issued a statement saying they “had zero knowledge of any of the allegations against Dr. Nassar, who was never an employee of Twistars.  Our hearts go out to the women who have spoken up and, like everyone else, we are sickened to the core by their stories.”

In April, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) revoked Nassar’s medical license for a minimum of three years, said Jason Moon, communications director for LARA. Nassar must also pay a $100,000 fine if he chooses to file an application to reinstate his license.  Reinstatement would require approval from the Michigan Board of Medicine, Moon said. 

Oregon CPS Worker Accused Of Falsifying Reports

.jpg photo of CPS worker accused of falsifying reports
Miguel A. Fuentes III, 34

DHS worker arrested on allegations of
falsifying Child Abuse reports

Oregon  –  A state employee has been arrested on allegations of falsifying child abuse reports, deputies said Thursday.

Miguel A. Fuentes III, who works in Child Protective Services for the Oregon Department of Human Services, turned in reports showing contacts and interviews that didn’t happen, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

“Other reports contained false statements and work that was allegedly completed” during days he was off work, deputies said.

Detectives began reviewing cases assigned to Fuentes after a sheriff’s office detective and DHS employee working on a child abuse investigation found inconsistencies in reports he finished. Detectives found falsified information in at least 15 of his cases, deputies said.

They said Fuentes, 34, is facing 15 counts of tampering with public records and first-degree official misconduct.

His employer put him on administrative leave when it got wind of the investigation in November 2016 and has since given cases he was involved in to other workers, according to the sheriff’s office.  A DHS spokeswoman said he remains on administrative leave.

Fuentes most recently worked in Beaverton and has been a DHS social services specialist since August 2011, deputies said.

Fuentes is being held in the Washington County Jail.

Report Filed On Weiner In NY

.jpg photo of suspected child abuser
Anthony Weiner, 51, and Huma Abedin, 40

Suspected Child Abuse Complaint Filed in Anthony Weiner ‘Sexting’ Scandal

New York  –  Because former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) reportedly “sexted” a picture of his crotch while his four-year-old son was sleeping next to him, the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, has filed a Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Maltreatment with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

“As president of the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization, I am well aware of the plague of child sexual abuse that marks virtually every sector of society, including, regrettably, the Catholic Church,” said Donohue in an Aug. 31 press release.  “I am writing to express my concerns about the emotional and physical well being of Jordan Weiner, son of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin.”

“The New York City Administration for Children’s Services defines child sexual abuse to include ‘incest, rape, obscene sexual performance, fondling a child’s genitals, intercourse, sodomy, and any other contact such as exposing a child to sexual activity, or commercial sexual exploitation such as prostitution of a minor or production of pornographic materials involving a minor,'” reads the press release.

“On August 29,” he continued, “we learned that Mr. Weiner took crotch shots of himself sporting an erection with his son lying next to him in bed.  That was disturbing enough, but now we know that he used his child as a ‘chick magnet’ to allure sexual relationships.”

In conclusion, the release states, “It would appear that Mr. Weiner’s sexual exploitation of his child meets the definition of child sexual abuse as defined by the Administration for Children’s Services. Please investigate this matter.”

In the complaint, Jordan Weiner, age 4, is named as the child in the household of Anthony Weiner, 51, and Huma Abedin, 40.  “Sexual Abuse” is marked for the Basis of Suspicions.  The document was signed by William Donohue on Aug. 31, 2016.

Anthony Weiner served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1999 to June 21, 2011.  His wife, Huma Abedin, is a long-time senior adviser to Hillary Clinton.  After this latest sexting scandal surfaced, Abedin announced that she was separating from her husband.

NY Has Double Standard For Child Abuse?

.jpg photo of Former NY Congressman
Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner

State Senator says Weiner should be probed
for Child Abuse

New York  –  A veteran New York politician is demanding city authorities open a probe into the household of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin for potential child abuse and neglect.

Bronx state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., who is also a pentecostal minister, said he was repulsed by the shocking revelation that Weiner sexted a woman a lurid crotch shot of himself with his 4-year-old son in the picture.

“You should know that the Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 cover of the New York Post shows a photo of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner in his bed alongside his toddler, while doing things that no child should see on camera in Anthony Weiner’s sexual exchange with a woman,” Diaz wrote in an open letter calling on authorities to take action.

“The photo and story worry me as a Senator, a Minister, a parent, and a grandfather, because I believe that the disregard for any boundaries of sexual activity with a child present is incredibly inappropriate, and could have a harmful impact on the child.”

He said, “I urge the City of New York’s Administration for Children’s Services to investigate this case carefully and thoroughly … I am sure that the Administration for Children’s Services will consider how Anthony Weiner’s continued perverted activity that we have all seen over the years in his texting or Twittering is a harbinger of possible future child abuse or neglect, especially when he does this with his child next to him in his bed.”

Diaz said there should no double standard when it comes to child abuse.

“I am pretty sure that if this kind of information was shared with the public and if the adult in the photo with a toddler was Black or Hispanic, the City of New York’s Administration for Children’s Services would have been knocking on the door to investigate possible child abuse to remove the child.”

Diaz called Weiner’s perversion “a very sad situation” and said he would pray for both parents to “acknowledge the harmful effect of this continue activity on their young child, and they will address it with professional help before their child is further victimized by it.  I also pray that the Administration for Children’s Services will do their job.”

Native Child Custody Battle Has Happy Ending

.jpg photo of Child being removed from Foster Care back to Family
Lexi To Stay With Utah Relatives

Lexi To Stay With Utah Family

Choctaw child will be placed with relatives

THE 6-year-old Choctaw girl known as “Lexi,” whose custody battle became a cause célèbre earlier this year, will be staying in Utah with her family.

In a scathing 38-page decision issued on July 8, a three-judge panel of the California Second District Court of Appeals ruled against the claims of Lexi’s foster parents, Summer and Russell Page.  The panel
cited the couple’s “self interest,” their pattern of interference with and resistance to Lexi’s visits with her extended family, and their inability to facilitate an ongoing relationship with her siblings.

These factors constituted “substantial evidence” that there was no good cause to depart from the placement preferences of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the judges ruled.

Last March, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services removed Lexi from the Pages’ home in Santa Clarita, California after the couple initially refused to hand her over to social
workers.  With their refusal, they defied a court order that Lexi be placed with family in Utah, which includes two biological sisters.

The transfer, carefully planned for months and intended to proceed smoothly, deteriorated into chaos after protesters and media descended on the house in an effort to prevent it.

The case began in 2010, when Lexi’s father went to jail for selling stolen auto parts, her mother having disappeared shortly after her birth.  After being assigned to several foster homes, the girl was placed with the Pages while her father worked to complete a “reunification plan.”  Authorities told the Pages numerous times that Lexi would eventually be reunified with her father or sent to live with relatives.

Nonetheless, the couple began indicating that they wished to adopt the girl.  As a result, their relationship with Lexi’s father became strained.  The Pages were “interfering” with his visitations and
attempting to dictate the terms and length of his visits, Lexi’s father told ICTMN.

According to court documents, the increasingly despondent father—who has a criminal record and history of drug use—decided to cease reunification efforts with Lexi after 18 months of failed attempts.  He asked that she be placed with relatives in Utah.  The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the child’s attorney and the child’s guardian ad litem supported the move.

Thus began a five-year legal battle by the Pages to retain custody of Lexi.  Heading their legal team was Lori Alvino McGill, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who represented birth mother Christy Maldonado as a pro bono spokesperson during Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  The 2013 case involved a Cherokee Nation tribal member losing custody of his daughter after a legal battle that went to the
Supreme Court.

McGill, who represented the Pages as a pro hac vice counsel in California, has tried unsuccessfully to overturn the ICWA in various jurisdictions across the country, including Virginia and South Carolina.

Addressing the primary issue―whether the Pages could show “good cause” to depart from ICWA’s placement preferences―Justice Sandy R. Kriegler wrote for the majority in the July 8 decision that the determination should not “devolve into a standardless, free-ranging best interests inquiry.”  Kriegler noted that Lexi’s lengthy stay with her foster parents was borne solely out of ongoing litigation.

“The United States Supreme Court has cautioned that courts should not ‘reward those who obtain custody, whether lawfully or otherwise, and maintain it during any ensuing (and protracted)
litigation,’” the panel concluded.

Morever, “A holding that the facts before us constituted good cause as a matter of law would circumvent the policies favoring relatives and siblings, and it would incentivize families who knowingly accept temporary foster placements to delay an Indian child’s ultimate adoptive placement in the hope that as time passes, the family will reach a ‘safe zone’ where harm to a child from disrupting his or her
primary attachment is presumed as a matter of law.  It is unwise and unnecessary to stretch the bounds of California law in that manner.”

In dismissing the Pages’ legal arguments, the California court took the couple to task on several points.  They criticized the Pages for being unwilling and unable to provide Lexi with a continuing relationship with her Utah family;  for insisting that they monitor visitations;  and for demanding that individual therapy sessions meant for Lexi should include the entire Page family.

Regarding Lexi’s cultural ties, the justices also pointed out that the Pages were reluctant to engage in any of the suggested activities and had made only half-hearted attempts at incorporating Native
American heritage into their lives.  Summer Page, they specifically noted, had testified that a dreamcatcher made by Lexi had “ended up in the trash.”

The Pages pointed out that they had joined the Autry Museum and had painted a wall in their kitchen “Navajo Blue.”  In the end, however, the panel wholly rejected the Pages’ argument that their efforts represented Lexi’s best interest.

“The Pages also do not—and in our view cannot—provide an adequate response to an issue raised most effectively by minor’s appellate counsel.  Even though they appear before the court by virtue of their status as de facto parents, the Page’s efforts to show good cause are motivated by their own interests,” wrote Kriegler.

“Minor’s counsel, not the Pages, has a legal and ethical obligation to represent Alexandria’s interests.  The Pages lack the right to assert Alexandria’s interests because Alexandria has her own counsel, who
represents her interests and also acts as her guardian ad litem.”

After the decision, Lexi’s Utah family issued the following statement:

“We respect the unanimous decision by the court of appeal justices. All who have been appointed to seek Lexi’s best interests—her court-appointed attorneys, guardian ad litem, social worker, the
Department of Children and Family Services, and the dependency court judges—have unanimously echoed that Lexi should be raised by her family.

“More than simply sharing a familial relation with us, Lexi has been a real part of our family since the moment her grandmother—our aunt—expressed her desire that we bring Lexi into our home. The
determination we felt since then, when Lexi had just been placed in her first foster home, has provided vital strength for our family as we have waited for the courts to untangle the details.

“We hope the appellate court’s ruling brings closure and finality to everyone involved, and Lexi is at last allowed to live a peaceful childhood in our home.”

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, an active party in the case from the beginning, supported the placement with the Utah relatives.

“The Choctaw Nation is pleased that the California District Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court’s decision to place Lexi with her extended family and sisters in Utah,” the tribe said in a statement. “This has been the tribe’s objective under the Indian Child Welfare Act for more than three years.

“We hope this puts an end to this needless litigation so Lexi can get on with her life.”